Hope Persists Amidst Gloom in Jinnah's Pakistan



Media reports from Pakistan often portray a picture of doom and gloom, with the IMF bailout of the economy, terrorist training camps, Islamic radicals, horrible governance, and corrupt and inept politicians making the headlines around the world. The adjective of "failed state" is often used to describe Pakistan. Is there more to the story than the big headlines? Is there hope for Pakistanis amidst the doom and gloom? On Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's 132nd birthday today, I think there is. The telecommunication, information technology, higher education, media and the middle class progress started during Musharraf-Aziz years continues to have its impact on the country founded by the Quaid-e-Azam more the 61 years ago. Here are a few things I found posted by a fellow blogger on Tech Lahore blog:

1. Pakistan is the most connected country in South Asia, with the highest teledensity. The Internet penetration in Pakistan is at 10% versus 5% in India, according to ITU.
2. Pakistan’s communications costs are lower than any other country in the region.
3. Pakistan has the world’s largest biometric database (NADRA); this system (not the data) is now being provided to allied countries.
4. Pakistan has the world’s largest WiMAX network.
5. Pakistan has one of the world’s most aggressive Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) rollouts.
6. Pakistan has one of the highest rates of cellular connectivity growth in the world (According to PTA 2007’s report the rate of growth in Pakistan’s mobile sector is fourth highest in the world).
7. Pakistan was the winner of the 2007 GSM industry association award.
8. The US is importing UAVs designed and built in Pakistan to protect America’s borders.
9. With WLL (CDMA), WiMAX, GSM and FTTH, Pakistan is pretty much leading the pack in terms of diversity and breadth of connectivity.
10. According to Gartner, Pakistan is a “first category” offshoring location; this ranking has grown by leaps and bounds.
11. Pakistani companies won several awards at Asia’s APICTA startup/innovation conference and were considered the most “interesting” and cutting edge in Asia.
12. The world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional is a Pakistani and so is the world’s youngest Cisco CCNA professional.
13. Pakistani students excelled in MIT’s global software talent competition.
14. Citations of Pakistani scientific publications are rising sharply.
15. Over two dozen Pakistani scientists are working on the Large Hadron Collider; the grandest experiment in the history of Physics.

The Wall Street Journal did a story in September 2007 on Pakistan's start-up boom that said, "Scores of new businesses once unseen in Pakistan, from fitness studios to chic coffee shops to hair-transplant centers, are springing up in the wake of a dramatic economic expansion. As a result, new wealth and unprecedented consumer choice have become part of Pakistan's volatile social mix."

In the absence of any visionary and pro-active political leadership in the nation, Pakistan will likely continue to be heavily influenced by external factors and events in the foreseeable future. The change in Washington and potential change in Delhi in 2009 will likely have a far greater impact on Pakistan than anything Pakistani leaders say or do.

I am hopeful that people of Pakistan, especially the young entrepreneurial and the professional classes, will continue to do their best to help extend the positive legacies of Musharraf-Aziz years. I believe it can be safely said that the communications revolution (accompanied by dramatic growth in the vociferous electronic and new media) as well as a significant enlargement of the middle class in Pakistan helped sow the seeds of the end of arbitrary actions by President Musharraf. In other words, Musharraf pulled a Gorbachev (a la perestroika that unleashed uncontrolled energies) by enabling powerful resistance to his arbitrary rule. Some of these changes that Musharraf brought are durable and I hope will make our rulers more accountable. There will still be abuse of power but the media spotlight will hopefully shine brightly on it to the detriment of the abusers. Eventually there will be real participatory democracy to serve all Pakistanis with appropriate checks and balances imposed by a much larger and more powerful and aware middle class essential for true democratic governance in Pakistan, or anywhere else.

Here are two video clips of Pakistan's progress in the last few years:





Related Links:

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised

Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan Conducting Research in Antartica

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

ITU Internet Data

NEDUET Progress Report 2008

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Should Pakistanis be Proud of Their Country?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
A website called Democracy Arsenal asks the following about this post:

Fine, Pakistan is, in some sense, technologically advanced. None of Tech Lahore's indicators, though, discuss what I would call underlying structural factors. In other words, these are primarily dependent rather than independent variables, meaning that it is unlikely that the feedback loops are going to run from technology to politics or culture, whereas politics will obviously be an engine of reform in non-political sectors.

Here's what I think:

Without going into the specific accomplishments in Pakistan during Musharraf-Aziz regime, I believe it can be safely said that the communications revolution (accompanied by dramatic growth in vociferous electronic and new media) as well as a significant enlargement of the middle class in Pakistan helped sow the seeds of the end of arbitrary actions by President Musharraf. In other words, Musharraf pulled a Gorbachev ( a la perestroika that unleashed uncontrolled energies) by enabling powerful resistance to arbitrary rule. Some of these changes are durable and I hope will make our rulers more accountable. There will still be abuse of power but the sunlight will shine brightly on it to the detriment of the abusers. Eventually there will be real participatory democracy with appropriate checks and balance imposed by a much larger and more powerful and aware middle class essential for true democratic governance in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from Pakistan's consumer electronics market report:

Pakistan’s consumer electronics market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$1.6bn in 2010. Underlying demand will grow at a CAGR of about 7%, but spending will be restrained by a sizable grey market of smuggled or illegally assembled products.
The market’s considerable potential is currently depressed by a large grey market, poor IP protection, an unstable economic and security situation and weak distribution channels. Growth will be driven, however, by improved ICT infrastructure, and more credit availability. Reform of often high national and provincial taxes and tariffs on products ranging from computers to prepaid mobile cards would also boost the market.
Computer Computers accounted for around 18% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2009. BMI forecasts Pakistan’s domestic market computer sales (including notebooks and accessories) of US$283mn in 2010, up from US$264mn in 2009. Computer hardware CAGR for the 2010- 2014 period will be around 7%. The abolition in September 2009 of a minimum sales tax on imported computers should boost the market.
AV AV devices accounted for around 40% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2008. Pakistan’s domestic AV device market is projected at US$632mn in 2010. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% between 2010-2014, to a value of US$946mn in 2014. TV sets remain the core product in this category, but the growing availability of smuggled colour televisions is a market inhibitor.
Mobile Handsets Pakistan’s market handset sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 1% to 18.8mn units in 2014, as mobile subscriber penetration reaches 91%. Revenue growth will be slower due to lower average selling prices (ASPs) of mobile handsets, with most handsets sold at a under US$40 price-point. Another issue is a declining growth rate of mobile subscriber penetration, which is now above 60%.
Riaz Haq said…
The Lahore-based Pepper.pk and Five Rivers Technologies made it to the number one spot across all categories on BlackBerry’s AppWorld on August 3 with their game Ninja Fruit Bash, developed for BlackBerry smartphones, according to a report in Express Tribune:

This was the third BlackBerry app developed by the local company to make it to number one on BlackBerry AppWorld.

Their other apps to reach number one include Photo Editor, an app that allows users to edit photographs from their hand-held devices, and LED Notifier, an app that blinks different colored LED for different contacts.

Mahe Zehra Husain, the Head of Operations and Product Management said “We are thrilled at this achievement. We already have two world number one utilities on BlackBerry AppWorld and adding a game to our family shows that not only can good code be developed for software utilities in Pakistan we can actually make amazing games as well!”

Ninja Fruit Bash Storyline

Ninja Fruit Bash follows the quest of a Ninja as he travels across China slicing tainted and poisoned fruit in order to save humanity.

The fruit is poisoned by the evil spirit of Orochi and is fatal if eaten. Orochi has turned fertile fruit gardens all over China into poisonous wasteland and our Ninja is on a mission – to return all the fruit gardens to their former glory.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/224923/pakistan-it-firm-tops-world-ranking-with-blackberry-game/

Here's more from Blackberrycool.com:

There’s a growing trend of taking iOS successes and porting them over to BlackBerry. We believe the trend was started by Smarter-Apps and from a strictly business perspective it makes a lot of sense. Sure, you could spend a long time working on a risky app that may or may not be a success, or you could take something that obviously makes money on another platform and bring it to the 40 million or so BlackBerry users. Considering the huge success of this strategy, as proved by Angry Farm, it makes you realize that a lot of these iOS developers are listening to the analysts more than the users.

Ninja Fruit Bash is the latest in this strategy and they’ve taken the success of Fruit Ninja to BlackBerry users. The app isn’t 100% of the fun you get on the iOS version and there are some limitations on the BlackBerry side such as the fact that not all devices have OpenGL support for 3D graphics. Ninja Fruit Bash on the Torch was a pretty smooth experience and it’s definitely a good start. The company will have to work a little harder to bring more of the user experience and graphics to the game but as a start it’s awesome.

http://www.blackberrycool.com/2011/07/21/ninja-fruit-bash-is-the-latest-ios-success-to-blackberry-clone/
Riaz Haq said…
Urban elite of cities now in #Pakistan was #Hindu, #Sikh. #Muslims were peasants. #Lahore now "overrun by villagers”

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/57YwvcZC4oXwM0Evqj7s4O/Remembering-Pakistans-intellectual-wanderer.html

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